Sunday, May 14, 2017

The story of Kitchen Sink project (Part 1)

This is part 1 of what might become a series on a project I worked on almost 10 years ago and racked up 16,000+ downloads on torrent networks: the Kitchen Sink.

Origin


Back in 2007, I started having problems with an IBM ThinkPad.  After two system reloads and tech support telling me I had to spend a bunch of money to get a RestoreCD, I decided that it was important to make my laptop easy to break down and bring back.  So I started looking into software that didn't require an install, and mostly left the computer alone. 

At the same time, I was doing tech support on the side and started coming across more and more tools that would help me.  The great data recovery tools to get back files that were deleted or corrupted were a huge hit both just because I could occasionally fix things considered unfixable or undo my own mistakes.

 

I also liked being able to take my computer with me, whether on CD, DVD, or flash drive.


Launcher

 

The whole thing really began with an excellent launcher program.  Most importantly, the menu system for all of this software was critical.  You can't just create shortcuts in Windows because those change depending on what drive letter the program is assigned to.  It needs to behave the same whether it's in your CD drive (usually D) or on your flash drive (usually E or F).

 

Although there were a variety of programs available to do this, the best one I found (and still use) is something called PStart.




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Recent finds in the PDF world

  • The more time passes the more I like SumatraPDF.  Undoubtedly Adobe Acrobat keeps getting bigger and more bulky but even the alternatives out there focus on features over speed.  Meanwhile Sumatra has near-instant startup and is actually packaged into the next item ...
  • I still find FileVoyager a little cumbersome to use as compared to other file management tools but it's ability to preview files (primarily PDFs) from a list view is irreplaceable.  OS X is very good about this but FV is even better.
  • Firefox's plugin "Print Edit" solves the problem of limited PDF editors out there by cutting out crap you don't need before you initially convert it.  Also, this program has a TON of features under the hood.
  • PDF SAM only comes up once in a while but I'm so glad to have it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Amusing fake progress bar

From the website "A fully configurable spoof progress bar for your desktop. Make it look like your PC is doing something - while you do something else!"

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Maybe I'm nuts, but I've spent some part of my life looking at progress bars that never go anywhere.  Now for some reason there's comfort in knowing there's no disappointing outcome.

This also reminds me a little of the "gamification" thing I'm constantly seeing (add game-like elements to improve something that's boring).  While it can be used for good, sometimes like the paper tickets you get from playing Skiball: get 20,000 from $100 in video games and you can buy a $10 phone case.

I just found a USB drive

If PFWC were a company, I would consider this article bad PR since someone just sort of glancing at this would start to see USB sticks as security risks.

Like any good PR person, I might spin it and point out how this is a good thing for portablefreeware.com and related sites: someone finds a drive, it has a lot of space, what could I do with it?  As a result, wanted to point out a quick sequence of steps for making sure its not going to hurt you:

  1. Find a non-Windows device and Immediately format it, ideally to the FAT32 filesystem
  2. There is no step 2

Optionally, update your install to NTFS on a Windows-based machine.  This is only necessary if you're going to use the device for anything other than a backup.